Two Frauds Combine Into One New Variety of Scam
I think I've got a pretty good handle on the basics of HYIP-style Ponzi schemes that scam anywhere from a few dollars to someone's entire life savings. I understand the concept well enough that I published an article on Ponzi's and HYIPs just five days ago. Then I got a note from FPA Investigator Ken about something just a little bit different.
It seems that an FPA member who had made the unfortunate mistake of getting involved with the BestFxWorld HYIP was suddenly being asked to pay for a “VIP Membership” that wasn't part of the rules when he joined the HYIP and also wasn't listed on the website when the demand for this additional money was made. They refused to take the money from the funds already in his HYIP account and demanded than additional payment be made.
I had to ask Ken to recheck and confirm all the details very closely, since I knew what that kind of demand was and didn't think HYIPs did that sort of thing. He confirmed it all and then I knew my suspicions were true. The BestFxWorld HYIP was trying to commit its own version of advanced fee fraud in addition to the usual theft of account balances done by HYIPS that are getting ready to shut down.
For those of you who don't know it by that name, advanced fee fraud is often called a Nigerian 419 scam (apologies to my fellow soldiers who are from that country, but General Abacha's “friends and family” sent enough faxes and emails to make that name common). The basic way it works is that for some reason, there is a sum of money that only you can help recover from a bank, security company, etc. The source of the money varies wildly. There are hundreds of different stories – money skimmed from petroleum contracts, money left by some person oppressed because of his beliefs, money left in a bank account by someone who died with no heirs, money confiscated from one of Saddam's palaces, etc. I've even seen one where there was supposed to be some huge forex profits sitting at an overseas brokerage that were somehow going to be transferred. The only thing they all have in common is that the money cannot be touched until you pay some fees. The trick is, you can pay and pay until you die of old age. You'll never see a penny. The oldest version of this scam date back many hundreds of years in Europe – a princess has been kidnapped and all you have to do is pay a modest ransom now and the king will give you a huge reward for resolving the issue so discretely.
What all of these have in common is that you have to pay a fee in advance. The typical advanced fee fraud involves you trying to get money from an outside source. BestFxWorld has created a new version. BestFxWorld wants you to pay a fee up front to get your own money back.
Just to add insult the fiscal injury already inflicted on Rockwarrior, during an online chat with BestFxWorld, they claimed that they could change the rules at any time and clients aren't allowed to complain. Under those circumstances, it would be foolish to send money, since that statement means they could demand more money at any time before paying one cent. Of course, that's how advanced fee fraud works. People who run advanced fee frauds operate on the idea that if you pay once, you'll probably pay again and again.
Even worse, when Rockwarrior refused to give them more money, they also made the ludicrous threat that they would send the FBI to Portugal to arrest Rockwarrior for the crime of asking for money owed to him.
Ken tried to reason with the BestFxWorld admin. He responded by proving his company was legitimate by saying that they were verified by ICANN. All that really means is that the company has a registered domain name. Anyone can have a domain name and ICANN doesn't check for criminal intentions.
Next, BestFxWorld's admin threatened to complain to the FPA's registrar and hosting company and have the FPA shut down. I guess he didn't see the point that the FPA is also listed with ICANN and thus should be afforded instant invulnerability to all claims based solely on possessing a domain name – haha!
So, what we have now is a HYIP reaching its terminal stage finding a way to merge the whole concept of advanced fee fraud in on top of the Ponzi-style thefts they are already committing. Overall, I find this to be a disturbing development.
BestFxWorld is allegedly based in the USA. If they really are in the US, then the best thing for victims to do is to contact IC3.gov and provide as much information as possible. This is also a good idea for any US-based victims of HYIPS in other countries. If enough people provide good info to law enforcement, maybe a few dozen of these criminals getting to serve some hard time will slow this kind of scam down a little.
Needless to say, those hard working people on the Scam Investigations Committee have declared BestFxWorld to be a scam and have officially blacklisted them. I'd like to thank Ken and the rest of the committee for letting me contribute to the cause by consulting in the case and writing this article.
Official Scam Finding
Rockwarrior's Original Complaint